Mental Health Court

Judge Melissa Blackburn


Location: (Click here for map location)
100 James Robertson Parkway, Suite 100
Nashville, TN 37219

Phone number: (615) 862-8320

Mental Health Court: Find My Court Dates

The Mental Health Dockets are held in Court room 3B of the Justice A.A. Birch Building, every Tuesday and Thursday at 1:00 pm and, Friday at 8:00 am.

Staff for Mental Health Court:

  • Mark Winslow  – Program Director
  • Trish Breeding – Assistant Director
  • Cynthia Nelson – Administrative Assistant
  • Derek DeSha – Client Specialist
  • Frances Whitaker – Client Specialist
  • Valerie Fisher – Client Specialist

For more than twenty years, the Davidson County Mental Health Court has provided crucial support and assistance to some of Nashville’s most vulnerable citizens. One of the first mental health courts established in the United States, the Davidson County Court has been on the leading edge of working with those in our community who are dealing with mental health challenges. Judge Melissa Blackburn presides over the court and oversees a staff of specialists trained to address the particular needs of court participants.

Individuals participating in the specialized court program may be on probation or on a diversion program for criminal charges. Potential clients are screened by mental health professionals to determine their compatibility for the program and, if they are accepted, the period of supervision typically lasts eleven months. More severe cases may remain within the program for a longer period of supervision. Court staff works on a routine basis to ensure compliance, assist in housing, monitor treatment for substance and alcohol abuse and provide medical services with a goal of establishing stability needed to be a contributing member of the community. The court currently supervises more than two hundred participants, allowing them a fresh start and an opportunity to succeed in life.

Successful participation in the Mental Health Court program can lead to positive generational change as families are reunited and clients can become full participating members of the community. Over the past twenty years, graduation from the program has resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars in court fines and fees waived and thousands of charges expunged, giving graduates a fresh start. With that clean slate comes greater employment, housing and societal opportunities.

When we consider difficulties with increased incarceration and the constraints budget reductions placed on our justice and mental health systems, innovation in our approach is critical. The Davidson County Mental Health Court is meeting these challenges and providing a vital service to the community.

Task Force on Competency & Wellbeing: Findings & Recommendations